Role of reading

Reading is the most efficient way to learn

Few ever bother to look at the comparative advantages of the four vehicles of learning – doing, seeing, hearing and reading. There is little appreciation of reading as the primary mode of learning.
Incidentally, in a proud moment for India, and a great mark of insight, for the first time ever an Indian Prime Minister, addressing students on Teachers’ day, encouraged reading and exhorted them to ‘read anything’ but read. (on Teachers’ day, 2014)
A comparative table of reading vis-a-vis doing, seeing, hearing along several dimensions is given below. A scale of 1 to 5 is used, with ‘1’ representing the ‘least fit’ and ‘5’ representing the ‘best fit’.

* Reading could be 5 but conservatively placed at 4.
Here is what we must take of this comparison:
a. Reading and doing have the potential of offering 2/3rd of the learning opportunities.
b. Reading is nearly twice as powerful as seeing, doing or hearing as a learning tool.
In a world of education where children are neither reading nor dirtying their hands while doing experiments or meaningful exercises (not the thoughtless repetitive ones), 1/3rd learning capacity is what the students are working with. Students are essentially relying on lectures and animated contents in classrooms for learning. We blame syllabi for being too long and tough but working at 40% of learning capacity will make even the most truncated syllabi seem long and tough.

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